On the day of our first anniversary, the boyfriend and I finally decided that we were ready to live together. I own a one-bedroom apartment and, because I had bought it when the market was good, my monthly mortgage is less than $1,500. He was renting a bedroom with two of his colleagues from work and was paying $1,400 for a tiny room that could fit only a super-single bed. It simply did not make sense to waste that money. So we decided that he would pay for the maintenance, the cable and internet bills, and split the gas of the car with me.
That was two years ago.
Even after living with each other for two years, I think we are still learning about sharing every day. At least I think I am.
It’s hard sharing your personal space with someone. When he first moved in, I was happy. Then the honeymoon period ended, and soon, we were wrestling each other for space on the couch. That was the least of my problems, actually. Some of the things we still fight over:
1. The TV
What channel should we be watching? I can’t live without my TVB drama series, he hates the weeping and the crying. He likes to watch movies on repeat, I don’t understand why anyone would even want to do that. He seems to be hard on hearing, often turning the volume up to deafening levels. I, on the other hand, have such sensitive hearing (no thanks to my huge ears, really), I’d scream at him to turn it down.
Have we come to a compromise after two years of trying to control the remote control? Not really.
I have settled for watching my Hong Kong series at one go on Saturdays and Sundays. Although it isn’t good enough for him, he knows better to change the channel so he either plugs into YouTube on his laptop or, he goes for a long, long run.
Lesson here: If you stand your ground, someone’s got to give way and run away. Haha! I’m kidding. Well, maybe it’s more, “If you love each other, you will allow him/her to indulge once in a while.” I do compromise, okay? He’s now watching Thor for the 56th time and have I uttered a single word of complaint? No!
2. The Car
We argue over the car – who should use it, what is allowed and not allowed in the boot – all. The. Time. I really think storing 28kg worth of kettlebells in the boot is environmentally unfriendly, but every time I raise my protest, he retorts, “I topped up the gas!” AARGH. He leaves his sweat-soaked running clothes on the backseat, I have half my shoe collection there. When friends (read Denise, Lili and Vanessa) need a lift, they always have to place their feet in awkward angles. It’s embarrassing but neither of us want to do anything about it because we refuse to “lose”.
Yes. I think we are The Couple From Hell.
I used to go ballistic when he gets a parking fine or gets into an accident in my car. These days, I have learnt to just deal with it calmly.
That’s not the end of the Car Dramas. There’s an even bigger problem: who drives?
I hate it when he drives. He’s the worse driver but insists we both have the same way of driving. Hello!?!? I don’t zoom-jerk-zoom! I glide. And my driving is really so much smoother. Lili said so!
Lesson here: None! If I could seize complete and absolute control over my car without causing a breakup, I would. But apparently, guys “need to drive” in order to feel like they are in control of the relationship. The “experts” say it makes them feel more assured and when men are “assured”, they make better boyfriends. WHATEVER. I just don’t want to have a pouting boyfriend in the car, alright? If relationship advice had a place in automobile issues, Top Gear would have talked about it. But Jeremy Clarkson hasn’t, has he???
3. The Duvet
The duvet is called the cover for a reason. It COVERS you. But what my boyfriend does is sleep on top of it. Yes, let me repeat this one more time, he COVERS the cover.
Every night, at bedtime, there is a tug-of-war going on in my bedroom because somebody doesn’t get that he should go beneath the duvet.
There is no sharing. Instead, the lesson here is …
Lesson here: Get to bed before he does so that I can safely ensconce myself inside the duvet before he throws himself on top of it.
As much as I complain about the “pain and annoyance” caused by “sharing” things with a lived-in boyfriend, I think the most important lesson I’ve come to learn is this: see the funny side, whenever you can. It helps when one party constantly tries to diffuse every tensed situation with some humour. One of the things I’ve come to realise as well is that one shouldn’t be too possessive over the material things. I remember when he got into his very first accident in my car. I was so mad that I didn’t speak to him for an entire day. Finally, he burst out in frustration, “I was in an accident. Have you asked me if I was okay?”
That was a revelation. I was so obsessed with my car that I had failed to do the decent thing as a girlfriend and asked if he was alright. I saw how selfish I had been in the entire situation and that led me to remind myself constantly to be more accommodating towards his idiosyncrasies and strange habits (like parking the car head-in first!).
He, on his part, has learnt to sit through my long-drawn, melodramatic TV dramas, accepted that I’m just a moody person in the mornings, and am bad with replacing the toilet roll.
Living together as a couple is like a tug-of-war that never ends … both sides pull for their right to live life the way they want, but no one really crosses the line. And that’s kind of like a good thing.
Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of living together with a partner. Stay tuned for more!
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and knows she can be a bit too shameless for her own good. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.